Positive Reinforcement: Where Does It Fit In Equine Training?

With positive reinforcement your reward is seeing your horse anticipate his work eagerly and respond enthusiastically as you gain a richer relationship.

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By: Antonia J.Z. Henderson, PhD. |

Rewarding a horse for positive behaviour – also known as clicker training — is an excellent training tool. Although horses do respond to negative reinforcement (taking away a less desired impetus as a reward), it is proven that horses will learn faster with positive reinforcement, and keep that knowledge longer. The idea is to reward a horse for good behaviour – with a click, or any sound, actually, and then a treat. Eventually the horse will relate the behaviour to a click, and the click to a treat. However, there is a learning curve to this method – you must reward even the slightest accomplishment, and eventually the horse will learn the desired behaviour.

This article, original published in Horse Sport, describes the method of positive reinforcement, and the different behaviours, such as mugging you for treats or calming separation anxiety, that can be taught – or cured – through this training tool.

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